Peanut Crisp Cookies

These peanut packed cookies are an old-fashioned bakeries secret cookie!

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Peanut Crisp Cookies

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 large eggs
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts

Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees F. Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the white granulated sugar, packed light brown sugar, solid vegetable shortening, baking powder, baking soda and salt until smooth and creamy.

Add in the light corn syrup and large eggs. Beat until combined.

Fold in the quick cooking oats, followed by the white all-purpose flour, followed by the dry roasted peanuts.

Drop tablespoon size amounts onto the prepared baking sheets and bake one sheet at a time in preheated oven 17 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

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CHEW THIS! Old-Fashioned 3-Bean Chili

Old-Fashioned 3-Bean Chili

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, October 16th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Chili season is just around the corner…
Blaise Doubman

I do not know about you but I think of the four seasons in terms of food. Spring is the time for light and fruity desserts, small appetizer courses and sparkling fruit drinks. Summer is the time of year for cookouts, potato salads, pasta salads, ice cream desserts and lemonade. Fall, to me, always means sweet and cinnamon filled snickerdoodle cookies baking in the oven, hot apple cider and warm and comforting types of soups and stews, like chili! Same goes for the cold and dark winter months. In that type of environment who would want anything other than a warm, hearty and filling meal? I know that I may be in the minority here, but I love Fall and Winter. Those seasons bring so many fun and exciting times! The beautiful leaves changing colors, a much welcome cooler breeze and an overwhelming sense of excitement leading up to a flurry of Holidays, get togethers, meals and pitch-ins that last well into the New Year.

The first few cool days of Fall always takes me right back to the first time my Mom, Darla, taught me how to make chili in our family kitchen. She explained that chili was something that everybody made differently and it was really up to the taste buds of the person making it. She described how some people add pasta to their chili, some people add lots of spice, some add ground cinnamon and some even add a little unsweetened cocoa powder to add a hint of savory to the back note of the overall flavor. I remember being amazed that almost anything could work in chili! Years later I experimented with stirring in a little peanut butter at the end of the cooking time and guess what? Fabulous! I highly recommend you give it a try, but first, try mastering this classic recipe. Once you have this down, add your favorite flavors and see what happens! Perhaps a new and exciting dish to get you through the chili season…

Old-Fashioned 3-Bean Chili

This recipe has been handed down in my family for generations. My Great Grandma Viola Davis handed it down to my Grandma Deloris Bolinger, who handed it down to my Mom, Darla Doubman, who over the years has handed it down to me! These are the best recipes in my opinion because they have history behind them. Cooking is not an exact science, like baking is, so everything can be leveled out according to personal taste and preference. The measurements listed below are the exact measurements that have been passed down to me. Feel free to change, or add, whatever your taste buds desire. Cooking is all about experimenting and having fun!

1 pound ground beef
2 cans black beans
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans red kidney beans
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 Spanish onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 large can tomato juice
1 cup elbow macaroni
Chili seasoning mix
Hot sauce
Salt
Black pepper

Start by browning the ground beef in a large skillet. Once browned, drain the fat and return the ground beef to the skillet. Over medium heat, add in the tomato paste, diced green bell pepper, diced Spanish onion and minced garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes before adding in the chili seasoning mix, hot sauce, salt and black pepper. Add in the seasonings to your specific tastes. I use about 3 tablespoons of the seasoning mix, 2 teaspoons hot sauce and 2 teaspoons each of the salt and black pepper. Feel free to add and taste for your personal preferences.

In a large stock pot, add the large can of tomato juice and the cans of undrained black beans, kidney beans, red kidney beans and stewed tomatoes. Stir this together over medium heat.

Add the hamburger mixture into the large stock pot. Stir everything together and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Once it comes to a boil, stir in the elbow macaroni and continue a boil, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium/low and cook until macaroni is cooked and the chili has slightly thickened. Stir often to avoid burning the bottom.

When ready to serve, serve over a layer of corn chips and top with shredded cheese, chili powder and sour cream.

Ask and Answer: Theresa Pierce of Mooreland wrote to me with a question about my “Chocolate Banana Pudding” that was featured most recently in my column. She wondered if the recipe could be made sugar-free. Absolutely! There are several recipes online for a sugar-free chocolate pudding. My favorite version uses ripe avocados in the base. Substitute that recipe for mine and add sugar-free vanilla wafers as well as sugar-free whipped topping!

CHEW THIS! Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, July 17th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Traditional Pecan Pie is America’s Favorite Pie
Blaise Doubman

Did you know that pecan pie is “America’s Favorite Pie”, as determined by numerous online polls? It comes as no surprise to me, because pecan pie is one of my absolute favorite desserts of all time! I’ve had my fair share of them too! I’ve tried buttermilk pecan pie, chocolate chip pecan pie, citrus pecan pie and custard-filled pecan pie, but nothing beats the original classic that so many Americans love eating – the old-fashioned pecan pie, just like their mothers and grandmothers made. Between my Grandma Barbra, my Grandma Deloris, and myself, I’m not sure who has the biggest “sweet tooth”. It would be a close call, let me tell you. This pie has been served in my family for years and years. It wouldn’t be a pitch-in, a Holiday or any kind of event, without this classic dessert staple.

In developing this recipe, I didn’t want to stray very far from the original that I so fondly remember from my childhood. I knew that I wanted to use my Grandma Barbra’s crust recipe – my absolute favorite and “foolproof” method of making pie crust – but the filling I wanted to add in something a little special. That’s where the ground cinnamon comes in. It gives the pie a little “warmth” and really pairs nicely with the pecans and sugary filling. It isn’t overpowering, but it’s there, and adds just that perfect little something that slightly updates a classic.

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

Traditional pecan pie needs corn syrup, it’s just a fact. You can substitute dark corn syrup, instead of the white, but the flavor will be slightly darker, with a more pronounced flavor. I have made pecan pies before, without the corn syrup, and instead used a mixture of maple syrup, molasses and heavy cream, but the finished flavor just wasn’t anything near what I was looking for. If you find that the bake time, could still use more time for baking, please add an extra fifteen minutes to the baking time, being careful not to over bake the crust. Allowing the pie to cool to room temperature, before placing it in the refrigerator, also will help set the pie filling.

For the pie crust…
1 cup white all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons ice water
½ teaspoon salt

For the pie filling…
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs
1 cup white corn syrup
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F.

Make the pie crust first, by combining the white all-purpose flour, solid vegetable shortening and salt in a large bowl with a fork. Stir and mash together the ingredients until the mixture resembles small pebbles. Next, add in the ice water and mix together until a dough forms.

Once the dough has been formed, form it into a ball and place on a sheet of floured parchment paper. Take another piece of floured parchment paper, place on top, and roll the dough out to the size of your pie dish using a rolling pin.

Carefully remove the parchment paper from the top and flip the dough that’s on the parchment paper, dough side down, into your pie dish.

Remove the parchment paper, and carefully smooth out the dough. If there’s an excess dough on the sides, remove. Don’t worry if part of the dough rips or tears, there’s an easy solution for that. Just wet your fingers, and press the dough back together. This is what some people know as “water glue” for your pie dough. It works every time.

Once the dough is in the pie pan, using a fork, poke holes all over the bottom crust.

Place this in the preheated oven for exactly 27 minutes, then remove and cool slightly.

To make the pie filling, whisk together the large eggs, white corn syrup, brown sugar, pure vanilla extract, melted butter, salt and ground cinnamon.

Place the halved pecans inside the slightly warm pie shell evenly.

Pour the whisked mixture evenly over the pecans.

Take a large baking sheet, and place a piece of parchment paper on it. Then take the pie pan, placing it on the parchment lined baking sheet. This will prevent any pie overflow from going onto the floor of your oven.

Place in preheated oven for 50 minutes.

If you notice the pie browning quickly, tent the pie, or just the crust, with aluminum foil.

Once finished baking, remove and allow to cool. Refrigerate and serve. Store refrigerated.

CHEW THIS! Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, February 21st 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake brings back memories…
Blaise Doubman

I remember when I was younger, my family and I would frequently visit “Cassidy’s Egg Farm” located right where state road 234 meets state road 38. Sadly, it’s no longer in existence, but I have some very fond memories of the place and the food it sold. It sat back from the road a little, and was located in a small brick building behind a personal residence. I’ve always wanted to know more about its history and more about the structure behind the business concept, but I’ll save that for later. Let’s focus on the food. I remember going in with my parents, or grandparents and seeing their case full of cookies, cakes and pies. The desserts, all sitting in their own foam trays, with plastic wrap carefully stretched over each, always called my attention. Over in the corner, was a refrigerated section filled with, you guessed it, eggs and milk. It was genuine, personable and quant. The payment method was “the honesty policy” and went something like this… On the counter there was a notebook and pen. You wrote down what you got, how much it was, and, per the sign hanging, they requested you put your money into a small slot in the wall, which was then collected on the other side by the owners.

Over the course of several years, I think I tried everything they had to offer. Their chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and snickerdoodles were delicious. Their apple and cherry pies were always a personal favorite around the Holiday seasons. What my family and I remember the most though, were their chocolate cakes. After the small business closed, I would try and recreate some of their baked goods, but never quite got the final product I wanted. It wasn’t until I stumbled across a recipe for an “old-fashioned” chocolate cake (that is first boiled on the stove) that I even came close to the taste I remembered from my childhood. After several recipe changes, and a few added ingredients, I came up with the following recipe that my family and taste testers said tasted “almost identical” to the cakes remembered from the local memory filled business.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

For this recipe, I prefer Pillsbury brand “Softasilk” bleached cake flour. What’s the difference between bleached and unbleached flour? Bleached flour is aged quicker, by the use of chlorine gas and benzoyal peroxide, resulting in a softer flour that produces food with a softer texture, brighter color and a noticeable difference in volume. Unbleached flour is aged “naturally” and, when used in baking, produces more structure in the final product. Unbleached flour is often used in yeast breads for this reason. Both flours, however, can be used interchangeably in times of need, but a good rule of thumb would be: use the flour that is called for in the recipe. Baking is science; therefore following exact directions are critical.

For the cake…
2 cups bleached cake flour
2 cups white granulated sugar
1 cup cold water
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
5 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the frosting…
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 ¾ cup powdered sugar

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the cake flour and white granulated sugar together in a large bowl.

In a large sized saucepan, add in the water, butter, vegetable oil and cocoa powder. Stir together and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, turn off heat and add in the combined flour and sugar mixture and stir together well.

Once thoroughly mixed together, add in the buttermilk, eggs, instant coffee granules, baking soda and ground cinnamon and stir until everything is combined.

Pour this mixture into the prepared baking pan, and place in preheated oven for exactly 30 minutes.

Once baked, remove from oven and start on the frosting.

To make the frosting, combine the butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, whole milk, pure vanilla extract and powdered sugar in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir this mixture constantly until it just comes to a bubble, being careful not to allow a boil. Immediately pour this mixture over the slightly cooled cake.

Allow the cake, and frosting, to cool completely before cutting and enjoying.

Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” June 30th, 2015

Is macaroni and cheese a vegetable?! Do not answer that… I am not sure I would want to hear the answer. It does not matter though, because this recipe is the perfect side dish, no matter what the main course is.

Several people have written to me and wanted to know if I have a recipe for macaroni and cheese. Yes! I do. It is simple, easy, old-fashioned and so good you will want to make it again, and again, and again…

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Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound (about 6 cups cooked) elbow macaroni
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1 stick (4 oz.) salted butter, cubed
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Next, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Salt the water generously, before adding in the pasta, for added flavor to the pasta.

Once the macaroni is cooked – drain well and return to pot over low heat. Stir in the grated sharp cheddar cheese and cubed salted butter. Stir until the cheese and butter have completely coated the warm pasta.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the large eggs, sour cream, whole milk, salt and black pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour this mixture over the cheese and butter coated macaroni and stir until well mixed.

Place the macaroni mixture into the prepared baking dish, and top evenly with the grated mild cheddar cheese.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy!